Live Below the Line Day 3 – I give up

Enough.  It can be done but only if you are prepared to forage for free veg, are happy eating someones leftover apples and don’t mind being constantly hungry.

I mind all of that.

What have I gained? I’m proud that I managed to eat reasonably good food for 2 and a half days on £1 a day.  Apart from feeling so hungry I can’t think straight I feel healthy, not bloated or strung out on additives from cheap supermarket food. My skin is fantastic from drinking pints of lemon balm tea. I’ve learnt that you need a whole carrier bag of nettles to make a small portion as they boil down to nothing. I’ve missed avocado and spinach. I’ve not missed sugar or tea.

I’ve proved to myself what I already know;  people with money don’t have to spend so much to live.  People with money can buy bigger boxes and 3 for the price of 2 bargains to fill their cupboards with and eat next week or the week after. People with more money have big freezers they can pack with yellow ticketed bargains they get when they see them, because they have spare change on them.

I didn’t go into this to raise money so a charity can set up another retro shop selling overpriced Primark. And, as we have plenty of poverty in the UK it didn’t seem right to me to raise money for overseas. Also, £1 a day in the Republic of Congo can buy you a whole lot more than £1 here, it’s not a fair comparison. I just wanted to see if it was possible to live below the line and not eat supermarket crap, not bulk out on carbs and chemicals.

I live on an insanely low income but we eat well, purely because I have a buffer of savings so I don’t have to only spend £5 a week. I’ve spent most of yesterday and all of today fantasizing over what I will eat on Saturday (I’ve been dreaming of decent portion sizes), which makes a mockery of the whole thing. I’ve no sense of what it is to be actually so poor I’d have to eat on £1 a day on Saturday too.  I can only imagine the lack of light at the end of the tunnel, with good luck I hope I’ll never experience it.

I’m worried that the government will see the Live Below the Line site and think it’s actually possible, and reasonable to expect people to live like this, then cut benefits to the poorest of us who are the least able to fight back even more.

On the whole I just feel angry about this, it feels like I’ve just played a little rich kid game of being poor. I’m Marie Antoinette playing in her mock farm. It feels patronising and somewhat insulting to those that have to live below the line in real life, in this country, right this minute.

An avocado is calling to me, must go.

Living Below the Line Paleo Style Day 2

Weight 10st 7.4lb

Breakfast – an egg with steamed nettles and a teaspoon of celery, leek, tomato, wild garlic fried up in coconut cream (the starter for todays meatballs). I also poured my kefir over it making it non paleo.

Lunch – 2 meatballs to snack on while I was cooking, mince and coconut stew – celery, a dessertspoon of mince, a lump of creamed coconut, some leek boiled up with some chard.  It’s a huge bowl and I’m not sure I’ll get through all of it.

MInced meat, coconut and greens stew
MInced meat, coconut and greens stew

I am much cheered by more foraged greens, including chard, and chicken bones for free from the butcher that are in the slow cooker making stock right now.

Dinner –  mashed sweet potato and meatballs. I’m going to mash some chard cooked in coconut cream into the potato.

I found an apple with a small bite out of it so I took it home, cut out the bit section, peeled it and grated it into todays meatballs. Yesterdays are now in the freezer for Friday.

Meatballs with foraged veg and apple, mashed sweet potato, chard in coconut cream
Meatballs with foraged veg and apple, mashed sweet potato, chard in coconut cream


Living Below the Line – No Grains/Paleo Day 1

Day 1;

Weight – 10 stone 8.8lbs

Mood – slightly anxious

Breakfast – one boiled egg

Lunch – meatballs and foraged greens, carrot and dandylion leaf salad

Dinner – pepper stuffed with mincemeat and foraged veg,  tiny portion of butternut squash oven chips.

Lots of lemon balm tea

I’m a bit worried about portioning out my rations. I have to get it right or I’ll have no food by Wednesday. I’m mostly worried about the mince, which I have never cooked with before and I am worried it will go off. The plan is to make patties from it, as many as possible, mixed with different foraged food. I can freeze some of them for the end of the week.

I’ve got lemon balm tea brewing and I’ve just drank my soya kefir. It’s easy to make, you just pour some milk over it, cover and put up high to keep the cats off and in the morning you have a yoghurty drink.  The kefir grains are not going to be very happy long term with soya milk though.

Breakfast is normally a couple of eggs with spinach or some other green stuff. Today it was just one egg since I discovered that the nettles I was going to have with it boil down to nothing.

While the egg was boiling I started the mix that is going to go with half the mince.

Paleo Foraged Greens and Mince Meatballs

  • Tablespoon of finely chopped celery
  • A whole small red capsicum and seeds
  • A few leaves of wild garlic, finely chopped
  • Boiled nettles with the water squeezed out and finely chopped.
  • Half a boiled and mashed sweet potato
  • Boiled and chopped garlic mustard (it’ stringy, I wished I chopped it before I  boiled it.)

Dry fry then add a 2cm x 2cm cube of creamed coconut to the pan.

When veg has softened a little take out, and put in a bowl with double the amount of creamed coconut and add a little water.

Add the sweet potato and garlic mustard and 250g mince meat.

Roll into balls and bake in a low to medium oven until done.

This is half my mince allowance and I have 14 meals left. Five of those can be egg so I need to make 9 portions out of the mince  in total – 4 or 5 out of this recipe.

This made 15 little meatballs with some leftover to stuff a pepper with tomorrow. I had them with dandylion leaves and carrot and leek cooked in coconut cream.

Foraged greens and mince paleo patties
Foraged greens and mince meat balls with carrots and leeks cooked in coconut cream on dandylion leaves.


At 4pm I’m hungry but not painfully so. I’m looking forward to dinner though.

Pepper stuffed with mince meat and foraged herbs. With Butternut squash oven cooked in coconut cream.
Pepper stuffed with mince meat and foraged herbs. With Butternut squash oven cooked in coconut cream.


Living Below the Line – Paleo Style – Shopping List and Menu Plan

For my £5 I bought:

living below the line shopping

  • Sweet potatos x 3 – 50p
  • Squash 1/2 50p
  • Soya milk -(not pictured) 59p
  • Coconut cream 59p
  • Eggs 89p – I decided to save 11p and go for sad battery eggs instead of freerange.
  • Mince £1.48
  • Random veg bought from my fridge 45p

The ‘random veg’ is what I have leftover in the fridge, which is a leek, a manky bit of celery, a small carrot, some samphire, a small cooked beetroot and a bag of reduced capsicums. And I found a tomato in the street, it’s mine now.

Greens will be foraged wild garlic, nettles, dandylion leaves and garlic mustard, which is doing really well in the garden right now.

I also have some mint and lemon balm growing, none of which I planted so it won’t cost anything.  I also have horseradish which was here when I moved in 13 years ago.

Here are some meal ideas – I need 15 meals:

  1. egg baked in capsicum
  2. egg poached on boiled greens
  3. egg mixed into fried up capsicum and leek
  4. egg boiled with capsicum
  5. egg scrambled with leek and garlic mustard
  6. egg mixed into mashed squash to make a souffle
  7. mince patties with garlic mustard
  8. mince patties with garlic mustard
  9. mince patties with wild garlic
  10. mince patties with horseradish
  11. capsicum stuffed with mince
  12. mince patties with beetroot
  13. mince patties with herbs
  14. sweet potato oven fries in coconut cream
  15. sweet potato mashed
  16. sweet potato boiled
  17. squash mashed as a side
  18. squash oven fries with coconut cream

Living below the (poverty) Line – Whole 30 Paleo Style

On Monday I’ll be living on £1 a day for food for 5 days,

The idea came from the Live below the line challenge which is encouraging people to try to live on very little and be sponsored for it. I’m not doing that, firstly because I find it really embarrasing when friends ask me to sponsor them, and secondly because over my dead body is any money I raise going to a religious organisation. Not all the organisations you can raise money for are religious but I also wonder how much actually gets to the charity. Anyway, I digress. I’m doing this as a personal challenge.

The meal plans they suggest are pretty much junk food; cheap spagetti, value white bread, budget jam… and I’m sure this can be done with good food, and in a Whole 30 style, where meals are a palm sized bit of protein and the rest of the plate vegetables. No wheat, rice, grains, legumes, cheese or sugar. I am not a strict whole 30 er, my family are vegans and I just can’t eat meat 3 times a day so I do a sort of mixed vegi and normal whole 30 regime. I also slip into the occasional pizza and drink beer. Not ideal I know but better than I was eating before.

I can forage for wild garlic, nettles and dandylion leaves so greens are free, herbs are also free because there is a free herb garden in a local park. Mint and Lemon Balm are just popping up in the garden so there will be some form of tea.

I’ve bought 3 sweet potatos for 50p, a butternut squash for £1, 200g minced pork and beef for £1.48, sardines in tomato sauce for 24p and some free range eggs (2p more than sad battery eggs) for £1. I drink soya milk  because it regulates my hormones and a litre of that is 69p. I’m might go halves on a block of butter with a friend for 50p, I’m going to get veg from the 50p bags outside the veg shop and hope there are carrots and tomatos and maybe even a big bag of sorry looking avocados. It’s a tight budget.

From my £5 I need to make 15 meals, each with a reasonable bit of protein and greenery. There are 6 meals in the eggs, possibly 6 meals in the mince. So I’m short of protein. I’m going to ask the butcher if he has bones he would normally throw away and I can make soup and maybe get enough fat from the bones to be able to ditch the butter and get coconut oil instead.

Here are the guidelines from the site.

  • From the 29th April – 3rd May you can spend no more than £1 a day on food and drink.
  • This means you have a total of £5 with which to buy all ingredients for your meals.
  • The full cost of all the items you consume must be included in your budget. This means budgeting for whole packets of food items such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs etc.
  • For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices, simply work out the cost of each item per gram and budget your shopping proportionally. Separate your items before the challenge so there’s no need to be digging around in your cupboards.
  • You can share the cost of ingredients amongst a team, as long as no participant spends more than £1 a day or their total £5 budget. Working as a team will allow you to pool together funds and do more with your cooking.
  • You can’t grab a cheeky snack from the cupboard unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget.
  • You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production!
  • No combination of meals on any given day can exceed the £1 spending limit. Remember this is a challenge to eat creatively and be enjoyed – don’t at any point deprive yourself of three meals a day.
  • You cannot accept ‘donated’ food from family or friends, but monetary donations towards your fundraising goals are acceptable, and encouraged!
  • You are allowed to drink tap water – remember you should try and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day.